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2016

A few months ago, a colleague wrote to me asking if I knew of anyone who could edit a book she was writing. Immediately, I thought of my middle daughter, Sydney, who was getting ready to graduate from college at the time. As an English major, Syd didn’t really know what was next for her. What she did know is that she loved to write (and does it very well, says the proud papa) and was planning to go to Europe this July with her boyfriend.

 

So I asked her whether I should recommend her for the gig. She was nervous:

 

“I’ve never really edited a full book before, Dad.”

“Well, do you think you could do it?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“I think so too.”

She said, “OK, I’m willing to try, especially if I could do it part-time.”

 

Long story short, she got the gig, just finished editing the book, and with some money in the bank she is now getting ready to head off to London.

 

Sydney had unknowingly stumbled upon exactly what employers are looking for these days in prospective employees: people who can work part-time and who have skills. According to the most recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR), these are two things small business owners want when looking to make a new hire these days.

 

A detailed look at the survey can actually be seen as a roadmap on how recent graduates can get hired in this tight and competitive jobSteve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png market. Here is what I mean:

 

For starters, according to the Small Business Owner Report, here is the breakdown of the type of worker entrepreneurs are hiring:

 

  • Part-time: 54%
  • Full-time: 51%
  • Freelance: 26%

 

As you can see, part-time is at the top.

 

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In addition, the general preference amongst small business owners is to hire Gen X employees (47%), more than a quarter of the small business owners surveyed (26%) said that they prefer to hire Millennials. Additionally, it also turns out that, despite conventional wisdom, you don’t need to be a STEM major to get a job (science, technology, engineering, and math). You know the drumbeat of course – STEM majors are supposedly the most sought-after grads out there.

 

Except when they aren’t.

 

According to the SBOR, a knowledge of STEM was the least important hiring criteria (10th of 10 categories.) Only 3% considered education level to be the most important factor when evaluating job applicants. What is far more important actually are these three things:

 

  • Skill level (49% said it was most important)
  • Fitness with company culture (24%)
  • Experience (24%)

 

Sydney is a perfect example of this. While she had little experience editing an entire book by herself, she did have the skills to do it. Being young and inexperienced actually worked in her favor; the author was able to get her for much less than it would have to hire a more experienced editor.

 

And that is what small business owners are looking for upon careful consideration of the SBOR. What they want are hard-working, trustworthy people whom they can afford, who can adapt and fit in, and who are coachable.

 

If recent grads have the right attitude and are flexible, that elusive post-graduation job can be theirs.

 

And with that I say, congratulations on graduating, good luck, and happy job-hunting!

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Small business advocate Carol Roth and an expert panel, including the Small Business Administration’s Nick Maduros, the Small Business Majority’s Rhett Buttle and Georgetown Cupcake’s CEO, Stephen LaMontagne engage in a resources briefing and discussion on the latest news, trends and policies relevant to small businesses.  Ealier in the video, Bank of America Head of Small Business Sharon Miller also provides an overview of the Spring 2016 Small Business Owner Report research.

 

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Click to view the video on YouTube.

The most recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report is filled with lots of interesting information, but to me it all points to one singular trait that any small business owner needs to have if he or she is to be successful. I’ll get to what that trait is in a moment, but some background about what the report found is necessary:

 

For starters, the report found that economic optimism is down across the board. Compared to last year especially, small business owners are less optimistic about the local, national, or global economies faring well. As we’re in an election year, 2/3 of those surveyed said thSteve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngat they expected the presidential election to impact their business “somewhat” to “a lot.”

 

That is a lot of uncertainty, and amidst all of this, small business owners are adjusting their growth and hiring plans:

 

  • While almost half said they were planning on hiring new staff last year, that number went down to 22% this year.

 

So, what does all of this point to? What is that most necessary trait that any small business owner needs to have to be successful? There are many traits that make a successful entrepreneur, for example, initiative. Certainly one requirement of entrepreneurship is that you have an idea and are willing to try it out and see it through. Entrepreneur Seth Godin says, “The only thing worse than starting something and failing, is not starting something.”  Initiative is important, but I don’t think it’s the number one trait.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

There’s also perseverance. Said none other than Steve Jobs: “I am convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

 

Maybe it is follow through. Says Guy Kawasaki, “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

 

A lot of people, myself included, think that one central tenant for business success is confidence. It certainly is true that it takes a huge leap of faith and belief in yourself and your abilities to leave the comforts and stability of a job and strike out on your own. As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.”

 

But I am not sure that even confidence is the key to long-term success.

 

No, especially when I look at stats like those in the Small Business Owner Report, it seems clear to me that if you want to stay in business for the long haul, the one trait that is needed is... flexibility.

 

How do you go from planning on hiring new staff to not being sure whether the economy and the results of the election will sustain it? By being flexible. How do you deal with the thought that a national election could have ripple effects to your small business? By being flexible. Being flexible means being able to pivot when you lose a big customer or when a competitor steals your marketing strategy. For the small business person, flexibility is confidence and perseverance and follow-through all rolled into one.

 

And in that vein, I will leave you with one final quote, from the one and only Richard Branson:

 

“You don’t learn to walk by following the rules. You learn to walk by doing and falling over.”

 

Getting up, learning a lesson, being flexible, and trying again is what enables the best small business owners to keep walking. 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Finding time to take a vacation can be difficult for many small business owners. But statistics show that time off can make you happier and healthier, as well as help you achieve a better work/life balance. In our new infographic, we have some helpful tips on how to run a business and find the time you need to take a break from the office.

 

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Click here to download a PDF of the infographic.

Should you invest in commercial real estate or lease space for your small business? The answer depends on the nature of your business and how long you plan to stay in one place. Take a look at these pros and cons to figure out the best option for your growing firm.

 

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Click here to download a PDF of the infographic.

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